David Berglas had thought about writing a book for a m \ibkr ok years. Hi: mentioned it to me way back in the early nineties when we both worked on The Secret Cabaret. a television magic show for Channel 4. He told me some, but not all, of the details behind the Picture Post Challenge. And he outlined the concept of a television series he had devised and the incredible Rocking Horse illusion it featured. I admired the daring behind the stunt, the ingenuity of the series and the cleverness of the illusion. And I wondered whether he would ever write that book.
Years later and we met again, the book still unwritten, this time I was to interview him for a feature article in Stan Allen's MAGIC magazine. On that visit 1 got to sec some of the Berglas scrapbooks: pages and pages of cuttings comprising reviews, articles and interviews accumulated over a period of fifty years. There was much to wonder at.
Over the years I'd heard a lot about his Dutch television series, Opus /.?, but it wasn't until I saw the photographs of the show that I fully appreciated the sheer size and scope of the project. Nor had I anticipated just how different the routines were from anything else that I had seen. David recounted his time in Holland and let me peruse the mass of cuttings devoted to that one show. I thought it incredible that no account of it existed in English to inspire new generations of performers. What a great book it would all make.
The article in MAGIC drew a good response and the idea of a book once again presented itself. David asked me who I thought would be best to publish it and whether I would write it. I spoke to Jim Steinmever and asked his advice. The conversation didn't last long; Jim said he would be very interested in publishing it. And that's how the book you now hold came about.
Deciding to write the book was perhaps the easiest decision we had to make. But what kind of book would it be? As David described some of the material to me, it seemed that the traditional format in which the writer tells you what to do and how to do it would not suffice. David's work is uniquely his own and is so dependent upon his personality and technical armoury that it would be foolish to slavishly copy it without thinking how it could be adapted to best suit your own capabilities.
So we chose another form of description. 1 have tried, as much as possible, to show the
With Dr Harlan Tarbell in 1953.
A blurred photo taken with a box camera by the six year old son of Harry Stanley. An amazing meeting of magicians at Lord Louis Mountbatten's home in Romsey. Fawcett Ross, Lewis Ganson, David Berglas, Robert Harbin, Dai Vernon and Cy Enfield.
effects and stunts from the audience's point of view. That might not appear so odd. Most technical books describe 'The Effect.' But they don't really. They don't convey the theatrical experience, highlight the drama or comedy or even mention the applause. They describe a trick whereas what we are trying to portray is a performance.
You'll notice too that all the effects are described as David performs them. You may choose to do them differently but first study how he made them work and then feel free to adjust them for yourself. I hope too that you'll forgive my hyperbole when it comes to describing the audience's amazement as the routines unfold. But if my scrabbling for adjectives at least reminds you that the goal of magic is to mystify in an entertaining fashion, then it will have served its purpose.
On a practical note you'll find much of use in those same descriptions and I hope they bear re-reading. The patter is there, the pacing and those all-important applause cues. As for the methods, they not only reveal how David performs his routines but understanding the philosophy behind them will enable you to construct miracles of your own. It's a matter of forgetting the rigid thinking we have all become used to and asking ourselves honestly, is this effect magical?
David Berglas is. to my mind, one of the great thinkers of Magic. In constructing his own routines he has redefined the boundaries of what is possible and reminded us that Magic does not limit itself to mere puzzles, entertaining patter or deft sleight of hand. As you will
see, he is a hard worker, always striving to make the routine seem utterly impossible and is prepared to go to any lengths to achieve that aim. It is not just that his methods are devious or clever or innovative, it is that the effects themselves go far beyond the mediocre short-sighted and effortless work that often passes for magic, at least among magicians.
Where his ideas come from is still a mystery to me. Occasionally he w ill see something, perhaps even a standard prop, and develop it on a scale that was unimaginable. He is very keen on production value and urges us all to " Think Big." Close up tricks have been turned into stage filling items using this one strategy. I le is confident too, not only of his own abilities but of the behaviour and expectations of his audience. This self-belief gives him an edge and enables him to go down paths that others might fear to tread. He enjoys risk but, as a study of this book will reveal, he also has his favourite methods and themes and manages to recombine them to find fresh presentations.
David Berglas once asked me why his fellow magicians don't discuss his work with him. 1 had to tell him the simple answer, "They don't know how you do any of it." He has himself to blame, he has been notoriously secretive, letting out very' few of the techniques and effects upon which he has built a very successful professional career. Perhaps this book will remedy that situation and David w ill find himself talking about the finer points of setting up a large scale publicity stunt, making a newspaper prediction or even getting a thought of card to any position in the pack.
A unique magical quartet: Corinda, Eric Mason, Punx and David.
A unique magical quartet: Corinda, Eric Mason, Punx and David.
Fifty years of experience have been packed into the pages that follow. We hope that it inspires some creative and imaginative thinking about what it means to be a magician and how tricks can be turned into miracles that will long be remembered. So prepare yourself for the grand backstage tour. It's a rare treat with many surprises ahead. There's magic you never thought possible, methods you could only guess at and presentations that are worth their weight in applause. The waiting is over. The book is here.
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Magick is the art and practice of moving natural energies to effect needed or wanted change. Magick is natural, there is absolutely nothing supernatural about it. What is taught here are various techniques of magick for beginners. Magick is natural and simple and the techniques to develop abilities should be simple and natural as well. What is taught on this site is not only the basics of magick, but the basics of many things.